John Stark football gets back on track with 40-0 win over Gilford-Belmont

  • John Stark quarterback Parker McQuarrie looks for his target as Dylan Goulet (55) blocks in D-II action Saturday. Nick Stoico / Monitor staff

  • John Stark swarms the Gilford-Belmont ball carrier in Division II action on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Nick Stoico / Monitor staff

  • Gilford-Belmont quarterback Greg Lyndon throws a pass against John Stark in Division II action on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Nick Stoico / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Sunday, September 10, 2017

GILFORD – The Generals needed to get their confidence back after falling to Souhegan in their season opener. John Stark got that and more with a 40-0 win over Gilford-Belmont on Saturday in Division II North action.

“Not to take anything away from Souhegan, but we just did not play last week,” John Stark Coach Rod McQuarrie said. “I was happy with how the guys bounced back today. Our pass blocking was much better today as well as our route running. We were just kind of lazy last week and making it easy to cover. Today, we were running our routes hard whether the ball was coming or not.”

The Generals (1-1) dragged their feet to a 14-7 loss to the Sabers last weekend. A week later, Stark increased its speed on offense while tightening up the line in their pass blocking. Quarterback Parker McQuarrie had more time to find his targets and went on to throw for 197 yards and four touchdowns.

“Last week our offense was not clicking at all,” the quarterback said. “We got together today and our line started blocking great. I had all the time in world to throw the ball.”

Stark saw the opportunity to strike quickly on offense against Gilford-Belmont and executed a no-huddle offense. This allowed the Generals to harness a rhythm that the Golden Eagles (0-2) struggled to break.

“Last week, every play we huddled up and this week we had more up-tempo, and the up-tempo offense definitely, for us, works a lot better,” McQuarrie, a junior, said. “We just flow much nicer if we’re up-tempo and not huddling up for every play.”

The Generals quickly went to work in the first quarter. Jacob Cole took off for a 22-yard run on their first play that led to McQuarrie connecting with Nickolas Wheeler for a 21-yard touchdown.

Stark missed its PAT but took an 8-0 lead after punching Gilford-Belmont back into its own end zone for a safety on its first drive.

McQuarrie went on to throw three more touchdown passes by the end of the half. Wheeler caught a second pass for six points and Jack Baumann also had two receptions in the end zone. Bo Lyons (40 yards rushing) scored on a run from 6 yards out to give the Generals a 34-0 lead at halftime.

It was the fourth varsity start for the junior quarterback who took over the final two games last season after his older brother, Drew, suffered a shoulder injury. Getting the offense to work efficiently and effectively was a boost for the team as well as for McQuarrie as he continues to develop in the starting role.

“I’m feeling really confident this year,” he said. “Last year, I think those last few games really helped build up my confidence a lot. A little tight here and there, but overall I feel very comfortable.”

The Generals took a few hits last spring with the departure of some key seniors that led Stark to the playoffs in the fall. This year, Coach McQuarrie is still looking for who the new leaders will be. One senior in particular caught the coach’s eye in Saturday’s game.

“I was impressed today with Manny Biskaduros,” Coach McQuarrie said. “He stepped up called (the team) out a little bit. We need that. We’re trying to find out who we are and today was a step closer to that.”

While John Stark improved its confidence, across the field Gilford-Belmont Coach Josh Marzahl was trying to keep his players from taking too hard of a hit to theirs.

“Wins and losses on the scoreboard are great, but we really just have to find pride,” Marzahl said. “We talk about playing for yourself, playing for your family and playing for your community. We might not win as many games as we’d like, but it’s a matter of can we come out disciplined and fight for an entire four quarters and how hard can we go for those four quarters.

“It’s more of a life lesson,” he added. “If you can come out down 34-0 at half and still play hard for the second half, that’s just how you overcome adversity and become better individuals, not just football players.”

Marzahl is in second year at the helm of Gilford-Belmont football. He took over when the co-op was created with Belmont in 2016 and the team moved up to Division II. Marzahl was the head coach for Gilford JV for two years before he was promoted to varsity.

Coach McQuarrie understands the challenges of building a program and tipped his hat to Marzahl after the game.

“Josh is building this program over here and they’re going to be good,” McQuarrie said. “He’s young and energetic. I like him and his coaches and their whole organization.”

Stark will host Lebanon (1-0) on Saturday while Gilford-Belmont hosts last fall’s runner-up Bow (2-0).

Trainer’s room

Gilford-Belmont captain, lineman Ethan Ormes was carted off the field in the first half. The 6-foot-6, 300-plus pound senior made a tackle near the sideline but couldn’t get up under his own power. When an athletic trainer arrived, Ormes told him he “felt a pop” in his right knee and couldn’t put any weight on it.

“All I know is he’s a big loss, mainly because of his personality,” Marzahl said. “Now or at the end of the season, there’s no replacing him.”

John Stark lineman Noah Bellemore was slowly helped off the field in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Bellemore absorbed a very hard hit on a broken play and laid on the ground for several minutes before being helped up. Coach McQuarrie did not have the diagnosis but said the senior was feeling pain in his ribs.

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3339, nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter